Leningradskaya Pravda from 11th February 1984.
This is the issue in which the official declaration of Andropov’s death is published. It follows the standard format for such occasions. The headline article is called ‘Address’. To the right of the masthead is the declaration:
‘The Communist Party of the Soviet Union and the entire Soviet people has suffered a grievous loss. The life has ended of the most prominent functionary of the Leninist party and Soviet state, a fiery patriot of the socialist motherland, the untiring warrior for peace and communism, Yuri Vladimirovich Andropov.’
Below the portrait is a communique from the Central Committee and Supreme Soviet, and under that, the ‘Medical Conclusions’, which lists all the illnesses playing a part in the death. Among other reasons, kidney disease and diabetes are mentioned. The medical conclusions are then signed by the group of doctors who attended the departed. 11 professors are named.
The next article down is perhaps the most interesting and revealing of the entire page, even though it is one of the shortest. It states that a commission has been established to preside over the organisation of the funeral. The head of the funeral commission was often the person who would succeed the deceased as General Secretary, and so this appointment was an important ‘early signal’ of the identity of the new leader. In this case, The president of the funeral committee was K. U. Chernenko, who indeed became General Secretary.
Concerning the death, lying in state and funeral of Andropov: We have 5 issues of Leningradskaya Pravda covering the period 11-15th February 1984. Click on the links below to find the copy you wish:
- 11/02/84 - Official death announcement, medical conclusions published
- 12/02/84 - Lying in state in Moscow
- 13/02/84 - More lying in state
- 14/02/84 - Chernenko appointed to succeed, further articles about Andropov
- 15/02/84 - Funeral of Andropov
Life and Death
General Secretary of the Communist Party of the USSR
Second Secretary of the Communist Party of the USSR
Chairman of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the Soviet Union
Chairman of the Committee for State Security (KGB)
Ambassador of the USSR to Hungary
Andropov is seen as a ‘hard-line’ Soviet leader in the West, although this perception may be more connected with his CV than his actions, particularly as General Secretary.
In 1982, Stalin’s surviving protégé, M. A. Suslov, died aged 80 in office as the Second Secretary of the Party. Andropov took the vacant position, perhaps because he had been working closely with Suslov in investigating the excesses of Brezhnev’s errant children. He rose to the highest post after the death of Brezhnev and embarked on a program of reform and re-establishment of Party discipline. Corruption was a target, as was the wastage of state funds.
Andropov was a modest, Leninist bureaucrat. He was not interested in personal enrichment. His ability to make positive changes was severely limited by his ill health and the refractory nature of the Politburo senior figures. Although he had chosen M. S. Gorbachev as his young and reformist successor, the ‘old guard’ had one final victory and on Andropov’s death the 73 year-old K. U. Chernenko took power.